When Kris Shook and Heather Karl met two years ago, it wasn’t love at first sight.
“I was like, who is this big football player guy with the tattoos?” said Heather.
Heather had been set up. She was moving and a friend sent Kris, a competitive fitness contestant, to her door to help. It didn’t take long for him to win her over.
“He’s my best friend. He’s the sweetest man in the world,” said Heather at their north Tacoma home Friday. “I can’t imagine my life without him.”
Happy and healthy, the couple started a real estate business together. Kris popped the question on the gondola at Crystal Mountain. Everything was perfect.
Until a visit to the doctor changed everything.
“They told me, not only do I have Stage 4 have lymphoma, I have two different kinds of lymphoma,” said Kris. “I was like, this guy? He doesn’t even drink fluoridated water, he’s so healthy,” said Heather.
It was April 2 of this year. Their wedding day just three months away. Kris and Heather had a choice to make. They could call off the wedding to focus on Kris's chemotherapy, or soldier on. They decided to fight the cancers together.
“I just didn't want cancer to dictate my life,” said Kris.
That meant changes. Planning a wedding while battling a deadly disease will drain you both emotionally and financially. Because they don't have great insurance, the initial hospital bills were jaw dropping.
“It was over 52,000 and that was just the beginning,” said Heather.
To save money, Heather is now making her own wedding dress, her own invitations. She's even making the wine. Survival is a struggle in so many ways right now, especially since when they exchange their vows next Saturday and promise to spend the rest of their lives together, Kris and Heather don't really know how long that will be.
“As positive as I am every day about beating cancer, it does cross my mind from time to time. The what ifs, am I gonna pull through,” said Kris.
The one thing they do know is neither will ever give up. When cancer pushes, they'll push back harder – together - with the power of love.
“I'm gonna kick it in the butt and spend the rest of my life with her,” said Kris. “That's what motivates me every single day.”
Kris and Heather find out at the end of September whether his treatments are beating the cancers. After that, they hope to enjoy their honeymoon.
Friends have set up a fund to help the couple with their medical expenses. If you’d like to help, go to their webpage Cancer Can't Stop This Wedding.